Chocolate and wine for improved health? Sounds delicious!

It’s always a thrill when we learn that something we already love to eat and do actually is good for our health! While everyone doesn’t have a taste for chocolate, or may not be interested in drinking red wine, both of these universal favorites contain important sources of chemical elements that have been proven beneficial for our overall health and wellness. And with February being the month of Valentines, that’s particularly good news!

Research has shown that the intake of dark chocolate has demonstrated positive results in reducing blood clotting, improving the flow of blood to brain and heart and lowering of blood pressure. Cocoa, from which dark chocolate is prepared, is derived from cocoa beans. Cocoa beans contain a rich source of antioxidants also called flavonoids and polyphenols. The pungent taste of cocoa is attributed to these flavonoids. These help remove unhealthy free radicals — which can contribute to increased cholesterol — and increase the oxidation level in the blood cells.

Furthermore, a survey at Oxford University has proven that proportionate amounts of dark chocolate intake produces positive results in improving and maintaining cognitive abilities, thereby reducing the probability of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Dark chocolate contains four times more antioxidants as that in tea, and dark chocolate, like red wine, contains phenols, which protect us against heart diseases. The phenols check fat-like substances in the blood from oxidizing and blocking arteries. Dark chocolate has the highest amount of antioxidants, whereas milk chocolates contain the least amount. The more cocoa present in your chocolate the better your chocolate becomes for your health.

Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and antioxidants found in red wine may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and protecting against artery damage. Antioxidants such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, a polyphenol (like those found in dark chocolate) that helps protect the lining of blood vessels in our heart, has heart-healthy benefits and can actually help boost HDL and prevent blood clots.

While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol. That’s because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body. Don’t exceed one drink a day for women; one to two drinks for men — and talk to your doctor first. Alcohol may cause problems for people taking aspirin and other medications, and too much alcohol actually hurts the heart.

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Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!